Social scientists want to understand not only social structure and history; they want to understand the varieties of individual men and women that are historically selected and formed by the social structures in which they live. The biographies of these people cannot be understood without reference to the historical structures in which are organized the milieux of their everyday lives. It is now possible to trace the meanings of historic transformations not only for individual ways of life but for the very characters of a variety of human beings. As the history- making unit, the nation-state is also the unit within which types of men and women are formed: it is the man-making unit. That is one reason why struggle between nations and between blocs of nations is also struggle over the types of human beings that will eventually prevail; that is why culture and politics are now so intimately related, and that is why there is such need and such demand for the sociological imagination. The problems of social and historical psychology are in many ways the most intriguing that we can today confront. For it is in this area, it happens, that the major intellectual traditions of our time, in fact of Western civilization, have now come to a most exciting confluence.
This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full.